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Raft provides users with an api for building consistent (as defined by CAP), distributed state machines. It does this using the raft leader election and consensus protocol as described in the original paper. Logs are persisted using rocksdb but Raft provides a pluggable storage adapter for utilizing other storage engines.


def deps do
    {:raft, "~> 0.2.1"},


Lets build a distributed key value store. The first thing that we'll need is a state machine:

defmodule KVStore do
  use Raft.StateMachine

  @initial_state %{}

  def write(name, key, value) do
    Raft.write(name, {:set, key, value})

  def read(name, key) do, {:get, key})

  def init(_name) do

  def handle_write({:set, key, value}, state) do
    {{:ok, key, value}, put_in(state, [key], value)}

  def handle_read({:get, key}, state) do
    case get_in(state, [key]) do
      nil ->
        {{:error, :key_not_found}, state}

      value ->
        {{:ok, value}, state}

You can automatically start a peer as part of your supervision tree as shown below. As shown here, when the supervisor starts, a new peer will be started with the given name. You can provide additional options and they will be used to customize the default config for the peer, for example, you can change the data directory with the :data_dir option.

defmodule KVStoreSupervisor do
  use Supervisor
  def start_link(args), do: Supervisor.start_link(__MODULE__, name: __MODULE__)
  def init(_args) do
    children = [
      {KVStore, [name: :"kvstore_#{Node.self}"]}
    Supervisor.init(children, strategy: :one_for_one)

For the rest of this example however, we will assume you are manually starting/configuring peers with Raft.start_peer/2, rather than starting them as part of your supervision tree.

Now we can start our peers. Its important to note that each peer must be given a unique name within the cluster. In this example we'll create three codes with shortnames a, b, and c. The Raft peers on these nodes are called peer1, peer2, and peer3.,

$ iex --sname a -S mix
iex(a@mymachine)> {:ok, _pid} = Raft.start_peer(KVStore, name: :peer1)

$ iex --sname b -S mix
iex(b@mymachine)> {:ok, _pid} = Raft.start_peer(KVStore, name: :peer2)

$ iex --sname c -S mix
iex(c@mymachine)> {:ok, _pid} = Raft.start_peer(KVStore, name: :peer3)

At this point our peers are started but currently they're all in the "follower" state. In order to get them to communicate we need to define a cluster configuration for them like so. This needs to be done on only one of the nodes. In our case, we'll run it on node a.

iex(a@mymachine)> Raft.set_configuration(:peer1,
            ...> [{ :peer1, :a@mymachine },
            ...>  { :peer2, :b@mymachine },
            ...>  { :peer3, :c@mymachine }]

Notice that we have to give both the peer name and the node name, even for the local peer. That's because we store this configuration in the replicated logs, and so they must make sense from all our nodes.

Once this command runs the peers will start an election and elect a leader. You can see who the current leader is by running:

leader = Raft.leader(:peer1)

Once we have the leader we can read and write to our state machine:

{:ok, :foo, :bar} = KVStore.write(leader, :foo, :bar)
{:ok, :bar}       =, :foo)
{:error, :key_not_found} =, :baz)

We can now shutdown our leader and ensure that a new leader has been elected and our state is replicated across all of our peers:

iex(a@mymachine)> Raft.stop(leader)

Try to use the old leader:

iex(a@mymachine)>, :foo)
{ :error, { :redirect, { :peer3, :c@mymachine }}}

We're told that the leader has changed.

iex(b@mymachine)> new_leader = Raft.leader(:peer2)
# or
new_leader = { :peer3, :c@mymachine }

And use it:

{:ok, :bar} =, :foo)

We now have a consistent, replicated key-value store. If you want to read more about the internals of the project or read up on the raft protocol please check out the hex docs.


This project is not quite ready for production use. If you would like to help test out the implementation that would be greatly appreciated.


The goal of this project is to provide the elixir community with a standard way of building consistent systems. Pull requests and issues are very welcome. If you would like to get involved here's some of the immediate needs.

  • - Configuration changes
  • - Automatic cluster joining
  • - Snapshotting
  • - Alternative storage engine using lmdb
  • - Jepsen testing


An Elixir implementation of the raft consensus protocol





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